Friday, March 16, 6 p.m.
Chaz's Bull City Records, Durham
With Des Ark and Powers
If you're familiar at all with the history of Washington, D.C., punk label Dischord Records, you know that it's not a time capsule. Sure, the label's back catalogue is lined with the biggest names in hardcore and beyond: Minor Threat, Red C, Rites of Spring, Dag Nasty, Jawbox, Nation of Ulysses, Fugazi. But the past few years have often found Dischord at the helm of a D.C. pop fest of sorts. Check Ian MacKaye's latest band, The Evens: A duo with drummer Amy Farina, The Evens run counter to Minor Threat but parallel to another current D.C. pop duo, Soccer Team. El Guapo, who released two albums on Dischord earlier this decade, were an electronic-based punk dance party in waiting.
The first few seconds of Antelope's Reflector, then, are a surprise if you only know Dischord in the most general sense: There's no hardcore ranting, no chugging chords and no intense overdrives. But there are two guitars, interlocking in burbling, contemplative harmony. There is no sloganeering, no political misanthropy, no straight-edge pleading. But there are lyrics about self-reflection. Antelope—the new trio from ex-El Guapo guitarist Justin Moyer—is a staple of the evolving Dischord meme. But, like most of the Dischord pop bands, they share punk's embrace of directness and concision. The songs on Reflector, recorded with MacKaye last year, are short and tight, getting in and getting out without worry for the bells and whistles. As quirks go, though, there is an off-kilter funk that defines their spare sound.
"We write from the beat up," explains Bee Elvy, who shares bass and drum duties with Mike Andre. This is sometimes done collectively and sometimes individually ("a very 'composerly' process," says Elvy), but no matter what, each short, sharp song begins with a well-devised rhythm. It's a different approach for Dischord, but Elvy says he's glad to offer it for a label that's already done so much: "I love the Dischord sound, I grew up on it. I think we're the rhythm-based alternative to the Dischord guitar sound."